Levels of Teaching

Posted on Apr 28 2019 - 5:14pm by admin

Levels of Teaching

In the formal classroom setting the task of teaching carried out by the teacher along with his pupils, according to Biggie (1967), can be performed at various levels ranging from the least thoughtful to the most thoughtful behavior or mode of action. Many psychologists and educationalists have identified following three levels of teaching:

  1. Memory level
  2. Understanding level
  3. Reflective level

Memory level falls at the bottom (or on a three point rating scale at the extreme left) depicting the involvement of the least thoughtful behavior and the reflective level at the top needing the involvement of higher cognitive abilities and the most thoughtful behavior. The understanding level falls in between, requiring the involvement of the thoughtful behavior in a moderate reasonable amount.

1. Memory level

Teaching at the memory level represents the involvement of the least thoughtful behavior. In such type of act memory plays a key role. The teacher presents factual information before the learner. The learner tries to mug up these facts with the least involvement of his thinking and reasoning power without any care of understanding of their meaning and application.

According to Morris L. Bigge

Teaching at memory level is that type of act which supposedly embraces committing factual materials to memory and nothing else.

Features associated with learning at memory level

i. Analysis of the subject matter.

ii. Definite and fixed order of the subject-matter.

iii. Rigid adherence to the presentation of the subject matter.

iv. Mechanical handling of the various segments of the elements.

Underlying psychological theories and ideas

Memory-level teaching is influenced by the following psychological theories and ideas:

i.  The theory of mental faculty or mental discipline

Based on this theory teaching task at memory level aims to discipline or train the faculties of mind, particularly the faculty of memorization through exercise, repetition and practice of the learned material.

ii.  The Herbartian theory of apperception

In the spirit of this theory, the task of teaching at the memory level consists of implanting in the minds of the learners a great mass of factual information merely through the process of mechanical memorization.

iii.  The Thorndike’s connectionism

Based on this theory memory level teaching emphasizes establishment of S.R. connections quite mechanically through memorization. It gives full weightage to the law of exercise propounded by Thorndike in the process of learning.

iv. The theory of conditioning

Influenced with the theory of classical and operant conditioning memory level teaching task converts itself into task of habit formation through repetition of the association  between stimuli and response.


The teaching act performed at the memory level is confined to achieve the knowledge objective in the following ways:

i. Acquisition of presented facts through rote learning.

ii. Retention and reproduction (through recall or recognition) of the acquired factual information as and when needed.

Nature of the subject matter and its presentation

Memory level teaching is predominantly subject centered. Its sole objective is effective memorization of the presented material by the learner. For attaining this aim, it should carefully attend to the quality of presented material and its way presentation. The material for this purpose should be selected very judiciously for helping the students to get desirable knowledge of the subject. Moreover, it should be presented in a very systematic manner and definite as well as fixed order to facilitate its proper retention and easy recall. Such presentation at the memory level is quite easy as it is not necessary to associate or link it with the previous knowledge or connect it with the application at the present or future.

Classroom implications of teaching at memory level

i. Subject matter as the Focus

In such presentation, it is the subject matter which gets the focus of attention and not the experience of the learner.

ii. Learning is short-lived

Memory learning does not make an impact on the personality of the learner. Learning outcome is very short-lived.

iii. Great strain on the learner

Such type of learning puts a great strain on the mind of the learner and hinders the proper development of learning with regard to a particular subject.

iv. Motivation

The teacher must remain constant alert to attract the attention of the learner.

v. Testing

Essay-type as well as objective type questions form the basis of testing. Questions are framed in such a way as to measure the process of recall and recognition.

vi. Interaction

The interaction between the teacher and the student is at the lowest level.

vii. Superficial knowledge

Even if the learner fails to develop a commendable command over the subject, he may still be able to reproduce facts and figures.

Use of memory level teaching

In memory teaching presentations, drills and exercises play a very important role in promoting learning. Stress is laid on the presentation of information and facts in highly systematic manner with a view to developing memory. Recall and recognition become very prominent. Students memorize the essential contents of the subject matter and reproduce them. The learner is reduced, by the large, to a passive role. The mind of the learner is considered to be like a container.

It would be wrong to assume that memory level presentation is hundred percent vicious. The teacher can derive useful information from this and place emphasis on practice. It may be remembered that certain disciplines and types of knowledge, teaching at memory level is a necessity. The teacher should link old knowledge with the new one so that old knowledge is utilized and remains in the memory for  a longer period.

Role of teacher

Teacher plays a very dominant and authoritarian role in the memory of teaching. He is the authority to instruct, deliver, direct, control and evaluate performance. He is the stage setter, learning resource and manager of every classroom activity.So, in this level of teaching right from the selection of the subject matter to its evaluation, the key process of teaching and learning remains with the teacher.
Role of learner

In memory level teaching role of the learner is a passive one.This is because contents of the subject matter, teaching tools, and methods employed for teaching are all decided by the teacher. The characteristics of the learner should be taken care of while framing objectives and curriculum, and selecting teaching-learning activities and methods of teaching and evaluation.


i. It suitable for small children to a great extent as their memory at younger age is rote memory.

ii. The task carried out at the memory level in the form of acquisition of so many memorized facts prove quite helpful in the teaching –learning activities performed at understanding and reflective levels.

iii. The memory level of teaching-learning gives full freedom to the teacher for realizing his goal i.e. to furnish maximum knowledge of his subject in the form of systematic and well-connected pieces of information to his students in a planned way within a minimum duration of time.


i. It is carried out at the lowest level of the student’s thought processed and therefore, provides no scope for the development of understanding and other essential cognitive abilities of the students.

ii. Since at this level student learns by rote, the knowledge gained does not prove helpful in real life situations as it does not develops the talents of students.

iii. The pupils are kept in strict discipline and cramming is insisted on this teaching.

iv. Intelligence does not carry any importance in this type of teaching and it lacks motivation

v. Despite the best efforts in such teaching-learning, there is no guarantee of good retention and appropriate reproduction of the memorized material by the learner.

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